Archive for October, 2011


Every evening, nightly news crews face the challenge of coming up with an original and entertaining way of portraying a story that is being covered by numerous other news stations.  I found an October 10th story online about riots in Cairo, Egypt, occurring due to conflict between Muslims and Coptic Christians.  The story was being covered by every online news site, but I chose to only compare the stories covered by NBC and FOX.


The NBC story was right to the point, and filled with plenty of coverage of the riots.  The anchor gave a headline and went straight to a somber-sounding reporter at a desk.  The reporter said a few words on camera before the shot switched to the action, and he explained everything going on, stating that “at least 25 are dead, and over 270 wounded”.  There was an interview of the Egyptian prime minister at the end of the clip, and as he spoke, the reporter translated his words of wisdom directed towards the Egyptian citizens.  The only thing that was missing was a background of the violence.  It seemed as if it was expected that viewers already knew why the Christians and Muslims were fighting, but if they did not know, then the story would have somewhat of an empty feel.  On a good note, the story was completely unbiased, and had plenty of facts and action-packed coverage to keep an audience watching.

FOX’s story contrasted greatly with the way it was covered by NBC.  FOX’s video was very lengthy, surpassing four and a half minutes, where as the other was less than two minutes.  There was not nearly as much video coverage of the riots, and the few shots that were in the video were the exact same shots from the NBC story.  That is not an issue though, because there were probably not a lot of action shots to choose from.  The anchor stated that 24 people were shot dead by police, while at least 185 were injured.  It is unknown why the two news teams were so far off with the number of injuries, as the stories were posted at roughly the same time.  The anchor then introduced a Catholic priest and the FOX Middle East Analyst, who was lebanese and Christian.  Before either of them even opened their mouths, I knew that this video was going to be biased.  Sure enough, they were very informative about the victimized Christians, but they did not reveal why the Muslims were fighting them.  There needed to be a viewpoint from a Muslim, instead of both a Christian and a Catholic priest.   It is possible that it was biased like this because FOX notoriously is known to have a lot of viewers belonging to the “Christian right”.  Nonetheless, FOX had too much talking, and not enough footage and information about the riots to keep me thoroughly interested.

Not all stories covered by news crews will be biased like the one I reviewed; but when it comes to controversial stories, they tend to be.  Bias is not always a bad thing, especially when it is appealing to a group of similar viewers, but it is always important that a story keeps the attention of the viewers by providing quality facts along with good editing and camerawork.

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While the radio may not have the same effect as a television when it comes to capturing the attention of the public, it certainly brings a new light to stories when comparing to those found in a newspaper.

I decided to pick a topic that a newspaper certainly would not be able to capture fully in emotion and other effects: Performing Arts.  On NPR I found a radio broadcast titled, Bill T. Jones Takes Broadway Hit ‘Fela!’ On Tour.  It contained an interview with director, choreographer and dancer, Bill T. Jones, who introduced the musical and went over its main points.

The first thing I noticed was that the broadcast did not have a strong and compelling lead that a newspaper article normally has.  There was a small lead, but the narrator seemed to jump right into the story.  With a radio broadcast, there is no need to have a strong lead, as the broadcaster is hoping that the listeners already have interest in the topic and do not need a lead to capture their attention.  Not much is given away at the beginning because it is expected that the listeners will stick around and listen to the entire segment.  Newspaper readers utilize the lead to get needed information without reading the entire story.  If they are interested in the topic they may read on, but otherwise, they can just get the idea without reading it all.

Almost immediately after the brief lead of the broadcast, Bill T Jones began to give his thoughts on the musical.  Hearing his voice and emotion really caught my attention; something that a newspaper is unable to do.  When a person is interviewed for a newspaper, all that comes out of it is words on a page without voice or emotion.  It is much easier to connect to the story when one can hear the subjects of the story speaking.  Also included in the broadcast were actual clips from the musical.  The lead role, played by Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, was heard singing and stomping around on stage, and it was very easy to visualize his actions without actually seeing them.  It is impossible to capture those singing and sound effects on paper, so that gives the radio an immense advantage.

Overall, the radio seems to be the better alternative when one is looking to capture the full effects and emotions contained in a story.  It is not as easy when it comes to re-reading an article or enjoying the tangible feeling of the newspaper, but the radio is very successful with its function and delivery.